Australia Travel Guide


Australia Adventure Travel Guide: Ideas and Inspiration

PureTravel Says: “Australia may be the self-described land "Down Under"; however, nothing about the trekking, rafting, mountain biking, culture or wildlife is down or under. If you’ve ever wanted to see a real Tasmanian Devil or spot boxing kangaroos, this is the place to see it. There’s so much strangeness about Australia that you’ll think you’re staring at vast mirages. Though Australia is second to Antarctica as the world’s driest continent, Australia is second to none at having some of the most dangerous critters the world over. Getting out in the down and under is the only way to certainly see what this fascinating country is all about.”
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Holiday Highlights

Walking & Trekking - Though Australia is best known for its kangaroos, koalas, crocodiles and its coastline, it is increasingly becoming known for its trekking. There will be no need to go walkabout here, as trails such as the ones in Lamington National Park will keep you surrounded by nature for days. Or if you’d like to stay near the coast, then there is plenty to see just outside of Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

For a challenge, try Tasmania for some of the wildest hiking experiences. The lakes, forests, wildlife and mountains, namely the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair World Heritage Area, are as wild as a hundred years ago. Not only will you get to touch the bark of some of the world’s oldest trees, but also you’ll have fun footslogging through the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers area and famous Overland Track.

Culture - The nations' culture starts with the Aborigines. This group settled these lands over 40,000 years ago. They came and somehow managed to live on this brassy land for thousands of years without help from the outside world. When the outside world came, the Aborigines lost a lot. Though the government today is doing things to revive and help the Aboriginal culture, some things do remain intact. The didgeridoo, for example, is a wooden instrument used in Aboriginal music even still today. Dance, moreover, is used as a way to express the Aboriginal songlines culture. However, other music traditions started with European classical and sailor folk and ends today with rock and hip-hop.

There is more to Australian culture than music including food, sport and television. There are Europeans, Chinese, Japanese, Italians and all sorts of people from the Pacific Islands that all bring something to the proverbial table, a cornucopia of fruitful ideas and an assortment of tastes. The culture is ever changing but always intriguing.

Rafting - Notwithstanding the fact that Australia is a land of dryness, one of the lowest rainfalls in the world, there are some great rivers and coastlines to raft and kayak. The Franklin River gives way to some of the best rapids in the country. The Barron River, by the same mark, is close to Cairns and can be tackled in a few days. You can even ride through Tasmania or go around islands out in the ocean up near Queensland.

Wildlife - Australian wildlife is about as varied as the landscape. From marsupials to rainforest birds and reptiles to creatures of the deep Great Barrier Reef, Australia is no easy place to call home for any animal. Life here is a daily peril, a fixation on getting out of the heat, finding enough to eat and staying alive long enough to obtain a mate.

Mountain Biking - Just as trekking is easily undertaken from some of the biggest cities, so too mountain biking is easily accessible. Adelaide, for example, has the Chambers Gully and Mawson Trails. Between Sydney and Canberra, the trails multiply into the two digits. In the Blue Mountains State Park, you’ll get to pedal on the Narrow Neck Trail, the Woodford-Glenbrook Trail and Six-Foot Track Trail. In the Kosciusko National Park, the Snowy Mountain Trails are challenging and will send you away with an endorphin rush that will last two days. In Tasmania, likewise, the Tasmanian Trail can take you anywhere south of Devonport.
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When To Go

In general, the best time to visit Australia is during their summer, which is between December and March (opposite to the northern hemisphere). Their long summer holidays which run from Christmas and into January does mean more crowds. In north Australia, the best months to visit are from May to October and in the center, visit between October to November and from March to May.

If you plan a long tour, stick to the southern coasts in summer and travel north for the winter.
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Top Tips

- Never trek alone. The sun can bake you. The heat can dehydrate you. The nights can chill you. Pre-book all trips through a specialist tour operator and guide, as they will have all of the local knowledge.
- Be careful when approaching animals. Never try to get close for a picture. Even the smallest, cutest animals here could injure or even kill.
- Use a specialist tour operator that can get you there and back safely. A guide should be used for all adventure activities from trekking, rafting and biking. Their local knowledge will be invaluable.
- The land is huge, immense, powerful and full of craziness. Let loose, see all that you can, and give yourself plenty of time to see it all. Most likely, flying from city to city is one of the best ways to get across the country (Perth to Sydney, for example). Take all the time you can to see this unique place.
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Holidays In Focus

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Walking and Trekking

If you plan on taking a walking or trekking trip, you should keep in mind that most of the great walks and treks are on the right hand side of the compass rose. That is, most hiking opportunities take place either northeast, east, or southeast of Alice Springs (with some good trekking here too). That said plan the trekking part of your trip by flying into the eastern coast: Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Cairns, or Adelaide make good starting points. Here are some walks and treks you’ll find near some of these easy-to-reach destinations.

If you’re going to fly into Cairns, there are several hikes to choose from, although you might have to just choose one. Up here, you’ll be in the ‘tropics’ of Australia, so you won’t want to miss the Daintree World Heritage Area. Here, you’ll trek from the heritage sites to the Great Barrier Reef. The Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people lived here too. There’s a great ‘Tropical Hike’ that lasts eight days, so you’ll see plenty of the huge butterflies, platypuses and birdlife. There are waterfall, isolated beaches, lakes, massive trees and sky-high gorges.

If you’re going to Brisbane, a visit to Lamington National Park can't be missed. This group trek starts and ends in Brisbane and will take about six to eight days. You’ll sleep in special inns along the way and get up close and personal with all sorts of flora and fauna. From possums to sugar gliders to red-necked pademelons to 30-century old Antarctic beech trees to finding your own favourite species of plant, this park is jam packed with amazing sights. Most of the time, you’ll stay in the park and even walk from O’Reilly’s to Binna Burra.

There are plenty of treks down by Melbourne and some fantastic coastal hikes on Tasmania that you should make part of your trip. The Australian Alps, along with some great lighthouse treks and Mornington Peninsula hikes will keep you out amongst nature for a while. If you travel to the hot center of Oz (Alice Springs), then you’ll have plenty of opportunities to hike in the coined Red Center of Australia, the iron in the soil and rocks give quite a contrast. Once you get on the Larapinta Trail, you’ll have plenty of photo opportunities as there are sandstone gorges, mountains, yellow, red and brown cliffs.

Other hikes in and around this eastern part of Australia include the Caernarfon Gorge, Lord Howe Island, the Blue Mountains (5-7 day traverses) and some lovely coastal walks. The trails here are beautiful, awe-inspiring yet dangerous. Be sure to discuss the best place to hike and trek before you arrive. The weather and certain areas may be dangerous or wily, so you’ll want to have things pre-booked and researched before venturing out down under.
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Culture

The first people to inhabit Australia were the Aborigines. This migration started about 40,000 years ago. Before the Europeans thought this land a great place to set up camp, some numbers put the Aboriginal population at around one million. Today, the numbers have diminished to around 350,000.

Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and later sailors and prisoners came in throngs to make a new life in what Captain Cook called New South Wales. A couple centuries later, with tough immigration laws turned lax, Asian emigration turned Australia into a cultural melting pot. At present, the main language is English, with Chinese and Italian competing for a close second. Moreover, Australian’s have a cultural sense of unity, seen in their beer, sport, beliefs, legends and stories.
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Rafting

The only way to ride the wildest rapids when on Australia tours is to contact your tour operator. There is a lot of fun to be had here, but danger can lurk around unplanned bends. One of the best places is only 20-30 minutes from Cairns. Most river outfitters ride the Barron George National Park where you’ll get to see the 230-meter Barron Falls. Additionally, outfitters ride the rapids of the Franklin River, the best way to get through the Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage area. You might have to combine a day walk, but the river floods in certain sections, assuring a rollercoaster-like journey. Moreover, the Hinchinbrook Island and the jutting 1,100-meter peaks with flaxen blushed beaches ensure your adventure is memorable.
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Wildlife

With so many places, so many types of terrain and just as much vegetation, it will be no surprise to discover how many animals Australia supports. Though some are endemic and others came with the British prisoners and sea ships, all of them have in one way or another equally adapted to the harshness of the land. It is said that Australia has the most poisonous animals on any continent. Though there is some truth to this, most animals simply live here and strive to protect themselves from the dangerous climate and more dangerous predators.

The Koala is probably the most harmless of this nation's animals. The Koala is a marsupial and not a bear; she carries her young in a pouch and has sharp claws in order to protect itself and its young. The claws, however, are mostly used to climb the ubiquitous eucalyptus tree. Similarly, the kangaroo, which is a marsupial, carries her young in a pouch. Despite the cuddly name and appearance, the kangaroo can jump and run over 60 to 70 km/h. Males fight by ‘boxing’ for territorial and female mating rights.

Another animal you generally associate with this part of the world, thanks to the cartoons, is the Tasmanian Devil, known locally as Tassie Devil or Tas Devil. Also a marsupial, but with more of a temper, the 50-60 cm long creature scares the biggest of animals with its uproarious noise. Though no bigger than a cat or small dog, the Tas Devil has incredibly powerful jaws and sharp teeth to boot. These animals can of course be found on Tasmania.

Other animals that have become part of the circle of life are the wombat, platypus, emu, dingo, snakes, reptiles, crocodiles (20-25 feet long), great white sharks and fairy penguins to name but a few.

Moreover, the birdlife includes the southern cassowary, green pygmy-goose, red-necked crane, southern boobook, crimson rosella, cuckoo-dove, brush turkey, grey goshawk, fig parrot and fruit dove, most of which are found in the north-eastern rainforest.

Whale watching and swimming with whales is possible at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. You can swim the Whale Shark and the waters are warm and clear. The whale shark, despite its name, is known as a gentle giant of the sea. The Ningaloo Reed is a unique spot as it often sees large numbers of whale sharks and the reef is close enough to the shore to be able to snorkel. Whale sharks grow up to 12 meters in length and a very comforting thought is that whale sharks don’t have the usual shark-sharp teeth!
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Classic Itineraries

- Rafting on the Franklin River
- Rafting on the Barron River
- Exploring the islands and coasts
- Trekking the Tropical Hike
- Lamington National Park
- Mornington Peninsula
- Blue Mountains
- Whale watching at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia
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UNESCO World Heritage Sites

- Great Barrier Reef
- Kakadu National Park
- Willandra Lakes Region
- Lord Howe Island Group
- Tasmanian Wilderness
- Gondwana Rainforests of Australia
- Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
- Wet Tropics of Queensland
- Shark Bay, Western Australia
- Fraser Island
- Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh / Naracoorte)
- Heard and McDonald Islands
- Macquarie Island
- Greater Blue Mountains Area
- Purnululu National Park
- Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens
- Sydney Opera House
- Australian Convict Sites
- Ningaloo Coast
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Travel Resources

By Julie Bowman

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